For some of us, winding down at the end of the week means taking a yoga class, and for others it means toking on a joint-I had the amazing opportunity to do both when I participated in the first Ganga Yoga class (Organized by the LA Cannabis Entrepreneurs Meetup Group) in Culver City last Friday.  As an occasional medical cannabis user (a car accident left me with two herniated discs in my cervical spine), with a semi-regular yoga practice, I jumped at the chance to merge the two when my boyfriend sent me the invite.  What better way to really channel a deeper connectedness in yoga than with cannabis, and what better way to enhance the cannabis experience than in a safe and welcoming yoga community?  

I looked forward to class all week; how would I medicate, how much would I medicate, what are my expectations for the class, will this be intense enough to count as my workout for the day, will I be laughing the entire time in downward facing dog as Bob Marley whispers "Jammin" in the background?  Even though I knew I was going into a relaxing and free environment, I had it all planned out. Well, the boyfriend forgot the edible I was planning on taking; so I realized maybe all my planning was just misplaced nervousness at the idea of doing something new, so I decided to let all my plans go. I was here to meld two healing worlds (for me, at least) for the first time-my only responsibility was to take it all in.

We arrived with 2 minutes to spare, quickly checked in and received our goodie-bag courtesy of Greenly, they had an option for flower, vape or edible bag, I decided to go with the vape bag, which contained a vape pen with a sativa concentrate and some cannabis industry marketing material. Our instructor, Vance, made sure to introduce himself and ask if we had any injuries before we set up our mats.  It was a tight squeeze, but no one was turned away.  At this point I realized why I was there; I wanted to enhance the mind body connection in a safe environment,  surrounded by like-minded individuals.  After a quick intro from Vance-it was his first time leading a Ganga yoga class-we medicated and introduced ourselves to the room by saying something we are grateful for.  As someone who acknowledges that I take moments in my life for granted, there was a pattern developing of people who were grateful for this very experience, to practice yoga while openly using cannabis.  I felt like I was feeding off of this energy from people who were finally able to be themselves, to practice yoga the way that feels good for them.  It was palpable in the room, being in a yoga studio, using cannabis, practicing yoga, and not being judged for it. This is why people come here, I thought to myself: for the shared glances that are bound to happen when facing each other in a circle; for the draped mirror, removing the temptation to judge ourselves in our postures; and, for not having to wonder if your fellow yogis can smell the fresh Purple People Eater you just smoked, in secret, before class.

So I went in with a plan and came out with an appreciation for those around me; an appreciation for the guy who drove from Thousand Oaks; an appreciation for first time yogis; an appreciation for the father who came with his daughter; and an appreciation for myself, for allowing myself to practice yoga, and smoke cannabis, with a little less judgement.

If you're in the Los Angeles area and are interested in practicing Ganga yoga, check out the LA Cannabis Entreperneurs meetup group